MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – Mount Vernon residents expressed satisfaction, but not surprise, that interim Superintendent Judith Johnson unveiled a multi-year restructuring of the school district in an effort to make better use of its 16 schools.
After going through a lengthy research process, Johnson and the Board of Education determined that the district should transition to a “K-8 model” to help improve student’s education.
The proposal, which will be rolled out over several years – beginning with Pennington and Graham Elementary and Longfellow Elementary and Middle School - will attempt to create autonomy amongst students and faculty members that will be together for nine years before transitioning to one of the district’s two high schools.
“Something has to be done. There’s no way around that. Our scores are among the worst in the state – maybe the country – so something has to be done,” Douglas Place resident Ray Stanton, said. “The superintendent has done a great job for the district, so I’m willing to put my trust in her decisions.
While some schools are being underutilized within the district, others have been stretched to their limits, and occasionally exceeded. According to a feasibility study by not-for-profit Educorps, current utilizations range between 57 percent at Parker and 144 percent at Lincoln Elementary School.
The fluctuation in the utilization rates occur because nearly 20 percent of elementary-aged students in Mount Vernon make use of Westchester County’s various private schools, which have left the district’s current model antiquated.
“It’s all about the kids. If changing things around will help them get a better education, then there you go,” Nellie Cho, who’s daughter Christine is in first grade, said. “I’m all for them doing whatever they have to give the kids a better chance.”
Although Johnson will return to retirement at the conclusion of the school year, she cautions that she and the district are being diligent in the continuing search for her predecessor.
“I’m dedicated to ensuring Mount Vernon has the leadership and resources in place to succeed,” she said. “All children, regardless of their zip code, should receive a quality education for years to come.”